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Improving Pesticide and Fertilizer Decisions for Environmental Quality

Extension Education

Michael Estadt


Required training for farmers to purchase and apply pesticides and fertilizer provides the opportunity to teach current research and environmental management principles.  Farmers are required to attend three hours of training for their pesticide applicator license and one hour of training for their fertilizer applicator certification once every three years.  These programs are administered through the Ohio Department of Agriculture with a partnership agreement with Ohio State University Extension.

During the period 2020-2022, pesticide applicator trainings emphasized on-target application technologies, switching modes of action to minimize weed resistance, sprayer rinsate management, and the importance of following pesticide label instructions. In addition to environmental quality, human health concerns were addressed with sessions on personal protective equipment and research findings on pesticide exposure. Fertilizer applicator certification focused on reducing nutrient applications, reducing nutrient leaching and run-off, and best management practices such as cover crops and tillage reduction.

There are 422 farmers in Clinton, Fayette, Pickaway, and Ross counties in Ohio that have a pesticide license or a fertilizer certification, with the majority having both. These growers annually apply fertilizer and pesticides to the 873,000 tillable acres in the four counties growing primarily annual crops of corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Participant evaluation for the pesticide applicator training confirmed that 93% adopted practices that protect the environment, 95% improved pesticide handling practices, and 94% improved personal safety practices. Adopted practices identified by participants included proper handling and application according to label, using drift reduction nozzles, measuring wind speed, and increased use of personal protective equipment.  Fertilizer applicator certification evaluations showed that 92% plan to review their soil test phosphorus recommendations and 90% will change their nutrient management practices. Most common practice changes were incorporating applied nutrients immediately following application and the adoption of a living crop such as a cover crop. Additionally, 96% of the participants indicated an increased awareness of crop nutrient’s role in environmental degradation.

Required training to maintain certifications is an effective way to change farm production practices resulting in improved environmental quality and personal safety. Program evaluations show significant impact in achieving these program objectives.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: Michael Estadt, Ken Ford, Chris Bruynis
  1. Estadt, M. Extension Educator, The Ohio State Univeristy Extension, Ohio, 43113
  2. Ford, K. Extension Educator, The Ohio State University Extension, Ohio, 43160
  3. Bruynis, C. Associate Professor, Extension Educator, The Ohio State University Extension, Ohio, 45601